Homemade and healthy refried beans: Drain and rinse a can of pinto beans. Place beans in a bowl and add a few shakes of garlic powder and cumin, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Mash with a fork or potato masher until mixture is smooth. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir and microwave another 45 seconds or until hot. Top with chopped avocado, cilantro and grated sharp cheddar cheese.
— Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, CSSD, CLT
Ingredient Improv: Instead of pinto beans, use black or kidney beans. If you prefer more texture, keep the seasoned bean mixture chunky. Switch up the type of cheese and add more of your favorite toppings, such as nonfat plain Greek yogurt, hot sauce or salsa.
No-Bake Energy Bites: These are a healthy snack or quick on-the-go breakfast. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats, ½ cup peanut butter, ½ cup ground flaxseed, ⅓ cup honey, ¼ cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Roll into bite-sized balls and store in the refrigerator.
— Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
Ingredient Improv: Use almond or sunflower butter in place of peanut butter and chia seeds in place of ground flaxseed. No honey on hand? Try it with maple syrup or agave nectar. Experiment with other add-ins, such as hemp seeds, dried fruit or chopped nuts.
Sheet Pan Teriyaki Tofu: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut extra-firm tofu into 1-inch pieces. Chop a couple of carrots, 1 bell pepper, some purple cabbage and a head of broccoli. Arrange tofu and vegetables on baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes. Drizzle with ⅓ cup teriyaki sauce, stir and bake another 10 minutes. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with chopped green onion.
— Deborah Murphy, MS, RD
Ingredient Improv: Opt for tempeh instead of tofu. No teriyaki sauce? Use a mixture of less-sodium soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.
Dinner for Two: Drain and rinse a can of black beans. Combine beans with a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Split the mixture between two bowls, then microwave one at a time on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add some shredded Mexican cheese, then microwave on high 1 minute. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, before serving.
— Elana Natker, MS, RD
Ingredient Improv: Serve this dish over quick-cooking or leftover cooked rice or quinoa without adding much prep time, or roll it into a flour tortilla for a hand-held meal. Add vegetables such as frozen or canned corn, peas or carrots. If you’re cooking for one, save the other portion for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
Tuna Pasta: Prepare whole-grain linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In a pot, add olive oil and minced garlic. Toss in 1 can drained tuna, a jar of your favorite tomato sauce and ½ bag (about 250 grams) frozen kale or spinach. Simmer 10 minutes. Top linguine with sauce mixture, chili pepper flakes and shaved Parmesan cheese.
— Cara Rosenbloom, RD
Ingredient Improv: Use whatever noodles you have on hand. Swap out tuna for cubed tofu or canned salmon, chicken or chickpeas. Instead of greens, use frozen broccoli or cauliflower. Substitute nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese.
Freaky-Fast Fajitas: Drizzle olive oil in a pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add 1 package frozen bell pepper and onion strips, 1-pound bag frozen shrimp and 1 teaspoon lower-sodium taco seasoning. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Serve with your favorite tortillas and toppings.
— Anne Elizabeth Cundiff, RD, LD, FAND
Ingredient Improv: Use fresh julienned peppers and strips of onions, plus add other vegetables such as mushrooms and jalapeños. Top with queso fresco, guacamole, chopped cilantro and a dash of hot sauce. For vegan fajitas, skip the shrimp and add tempeh or loads of veggies.